Severe Weather - Summer

Severe Weather - Summer

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On July 13, 2014, the temperature in Pitt Meadows hit a new record daily high, reaching 34.0 degrees Celsius. Over the last several years, temperatures in parts of Europe and North America have reached record highs that have resulted in illnesses and sometimes even deaths. Severe heat can cause heat stroke and dehydration, and is also a factor in poor air quality, which can be a problem for those with respiratory difficulties.

Hot, dry weather also increases the risk of fires, due to dry vegetation that can easily ignite. Wildfires start when dry grasses and trees are set aflame by lightning or by human negligence, such as not properly extinguishing campfires. Each year, wildfires cause destruction of property and natural resources, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in firefighting costs.

What you can do
In severely hot weather, remember the following guidelines:

  • Do not leave children or pets in a parked car. Leaving the window cracked will not keep the inside of the car at a safe temperature.
  • Drink lots of water, and don't wait until you are thirsty to do so. Make sure children are well-hydrated also.
  • Stay in the shade or use sunscreen with a SPF 15 or higher to avoid sunburn.
  • Limit work or exercise in the heat; if you can't avoid it, drink lots of fluids - two to four glasses of (non-alcoholic) liquids per hour and limit activity to early morning or late afternoon.
  • Check regularly on seniors for signs of heat-related illnesses. Signs include thirst, dizziness, confusions, weakness, faintness and collapsing.

Also remember that hot weather can increase the risk of fires in urban, rural and wilderness areas. Always report any fire, regardless of size, to the fire department immediately by calling 911. For areas around Pitt Lake or outside city boundaries, call the Forest Fire Hotline at 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on most cellular networks. For more information on wildfires and fire safety in Pitt Meadows, visit our Interface Fire page.

Remember to follow these fire safety rules during hot weather:

  • Never throw cigarette butts on the ground.
  • Keep loose, dry debris and brush away from your home.
  • Be careful when running machinery and vehicles in areas of dry grass.
  • Keep a fully charged fire extinguisher on hand and keep a water hose handy.

Open fires are banned in Pitt Meadows, so bonfires, pit fires or outdoor fireplaces are not permitted at any time. Read more about the City's Burning Bylaw.

What to expect during a heat wave
During extreme heat waves, the City will offer "cooling centres" for people to drop in and cool off. These centres are air conditioned public buildings such as the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre and the Pitt Meadows Library. Residents are also encouraged to cool off at Harris Road Pool or the free waterpark at Harris Road Park.

Learn more about the Pitt Meadows Hot Weather Reponse Plan [PDF - 141 KB].

Q & A
What are the dangers of the heat?
The main short-term dangers are dehydration from not drinking enough water, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

  • Dehydration occurs when the body's water content is reduced. It can prevent the body's systems from regulating themselves and can cause a number of complications.
  • Heat exhaustion occurs when the body's temperature rises to between 37C and 40C, causing nausea, faintness and heavy sweating.
  • Heatstroke sets in if the body's temperature rises above 40C, preventing the cells and body systems from functioning normally. Those affected may develop rapid breathing , headaches, lethargy, confusion and even loss of consciousness. Unless emergency treatment is given, it can result in multiple organ failure and death.

Who is most at risk from the heat?
Seniors, infants and young children, those with existing chronic medical conditions (such as heart or respiratory problems), people with mobility problems, and those who abuse drugs or alcohol are most at risk. People who are normally fit and healthy can also raise their risk by exerting themselves in the heat, for example by taking part in sports or athletics.

How should I protect my children?
Babies and young children are particularly at risk from the dangers of hot weather and the sun. They should be closely monitored because they are more vulnerable than adults. Keep these guidelines in mind:

  • keep children, particularly babies, out of direct sunlight as much as possible,
  • place them in the shade or preferably in a cool room indoors,
  • give them plenty of water to drink to prevent dehydration, and
  • protect their delicate skin with clothing and sunscreen.

Parents should also be aware of the need for these precautions when sending their young children to school or daycare.

Learn More
BC Centres for Disease Control - Food Safety in Warm Weather
Heath Link BC - Heat Waves
Health Link BC - Heat-Related Illnesses
Environment Canada - Heat Alerts
Environment Canada - UV rays